When she was four, Rhea – an energetic preschooler – nearly died. A case of the flu caused Rhea to develop acute necrotizing encephalitis (ANE), a rare condition that causes severe brain damage. She entered a coma, and her doctors gave Rhea little chance of survival.
But Rhea woke up. And her journey began.
Rhea spent almost half a year learning how to walk and talk again with Holland Bloorview’s Brain Injury Rehabilitation Team or BIRT.
The BIRT team serves clients aged six months to 18 years who need rehabilitation following a brain injury.
Kids have unmatched access to a dedicated team of doctors, nurses, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, child and youth workers, social workers, therapeutic recreation specialists, and neuropsychologists.
This passionate team works together to give kids and youth, and their families, the best quality care to help them recover as fully as possible and return to their homes, schools and communities.
For Rhea, her journey involved days filled with physiotherapy, speech therapy and music therapy. “Three or four sessions every day, five days a week,” says her mother, Anshu. Intense in-patient rehabilitation supported Rhea’s remarkable progress, where she demonstrated grit and resilience beyond her years.
Rhea blew everyone away again when she returned home by showing a strong interest (and talent) for fundraising. From garage sales, to community events, Rhea’s incredible charm, charisma and light-up-the-room smile are impossible to resist. Now seven years old, Rhea has raised thousands for Holland Bloorview and has no intention of stopping.
“It helps her work on her speech because she has to speak to people who don’t know her well, and handing out items and collecting money helps her with her fine motor skills,” adds Anshu. “Even at such a young age, she understands she’s doing something meaningful.”